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Excitement. Nervousness. Fear. Weariness. The branches of the trigeminal nerve. “Wait what time is it??”

All of the things that happen in that first millisecond I find myself awake on an average morning in dental school. I clear the daily cobwebs as I grab my phone to confirm that I’ve either overslept or that I’ve woken up those precious 15 minutes prior to my alarm – those are the only two options when you know you’ve yet to hear the blaring that signals “get your butt up!” Phew, ok, we are good, it’s only 6:02am.

I run through my daily schedule to determine the attire necessary to take on the day. Lab, clinic, and cadaver lab…yep, it’s definitely a scrub day. I run around during my fifteen-minute morning routine – always thankful that I grew accustomed to showering-the-night-before at a young age. As I race out the door, I grab my lunch, breakfast, and articulator– the day would be ruined without this armory of items.

On the way to school, I put in my morning call to mom and dad. In dental school, you definitely grow, but there’s no pretending that I’ve become some super independent female with thick skin and thicker confidence. Nope. I need my people–I need my people now more than ever.

Dental school is no doubt “distracting” and all-consuming, but, ironically, the overarching, universal takeaway from all dental students I know is that we need our people, our tribe. The relationships we arrive with, those are tested and the ones that survive are fortified.

The people who we come to know while walking the halls of clinic are built to last a lifetime. It still takes me aback when I think to myself, “These friends of mine, the ones I’m giving my first injections to, the ones that I’m drawing out glycolysis with, the ones that I’m getting grilled by a professor with, the ones that I’m enjoying a precious “night off” with. These people will not only be my friends, but also my colleagues.

Growing up, my dad would intermittently reference his dental school days. I never realized quite what he meant when he would say, “Oh, so-and-so used to sit next to me in lab, he just referred a interesting case to me.” Now I absolutely understand what he means. Not only that, but as I grow in a professional relationship with these friends, I also know that they will hold me accountable to the standards we practice in school.

These 86 classmates of mine know exactly how I am being taught to conduct myself both within and outside the patient’s mouth. While my time in dental school will end in 2 years and 7 months (I’m not counting, right?), the protocols and standards should remain for the entirety of my career. My future colleagues expect a lot of me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

 

 

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